COLUMBIA – A local job apprenticeship program will give some people the opportunity to begin a new career. 

Job Point, a social services center, partners with the contracting company, Emery Sapp and Sons. Both businesses are based out of Columbia and work together to train individuals to work in the highway maintenance and repair field. 

Steve Smith, the CEO of Job Point, said the program has trained people in this industry for over 20 years. This year, the program is now recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as a registered job apprenticeship program. 

Smith said the highway maintenance and repair field is an ideal industry for people to work in because of its benefits. 

“It pays more. Significantly more than the beginning wage in Missouri,” Smith said. “That is life changing money. Not only for our clients, but for those who rely upon them.”

Smith said many of Job Point’s clients have criminal records and join the program to start a new career. 

“Some people work there for a full career, some people work there for a shorter period of time, accumulate some money and then go into other fields or areas, but it can be life changing for many of the folks we serve,” Smith said. 

The apprenticeship is a two-year program with year-round enrollment. Each year, Smith said the program trains around 40 to 50 people. It trains participants to follow safety measures and learn specialized skills within the industry.

Participants work directly with Emery Sapp and Sons during the apprenticeship and are paid during the program before officially entering the workforce. Smith said many individuals who complete the program are often directly hired by Emery Sapp and Sons or by other contracting organizations across the state like MoDOT and the city of Columbia. 

Smith said training people to work in this field is also important because of the need for highway maintenance and repair workers throughout the state. Employers like MoDOT are currently looking for maintenance workers for the upcoming winter season and maintenance crew leaders, among other positions. 

The program requires individuals to have a high school diploma, but Smith said Job Point helps many individuals meet the education requirement before they begin training.

“The first step is for us to help them get their GED so they have that credential and then we do the training,” Smith said. 

A celebration of the new registered apprenticeship program with the Department of Labor will take place Thursday at Job Point’s headquarters in Columbia. Smith said he hopes being recognized by the Department of Labor will draw more attention to the program.

“This will help kind of add another stake and give more credibility to the program,” Smith said.

Applications are available at Job Point's headquarters, 400 Wilkes Boulevard.

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